Welcome to The Quick Brown Dog, the new online journal of the Hagley Writers’ Institute featuring work from our students, graduates and tutors. We, Morrin Rout, Victoria Broome and Frankie McMillan thought it was high time we established our own literary journal following the models of Turbine, (Victoria University) and 4th Floor, (Whitereia Polytechnic). Along the way, Bernadette Hall was asked to be guest editor and under her experienced hand we made the final selection from the submissions.
It might be of interest to some that the editorial process typically involves some good-natured wrangling and a little trading back and forth as each editor puts forward their favourites. Those that made the ‘cut’ should know their work has been well scrutinized and chosen from a considerable pile. We are pleased with the variety of voices and form, ranging from novel excerpts throughout to short stories and poetry.
Reading through them again, it was interesting to note the recurring preoccupations in the submissions, often heralded in the first line: ‘He would not tell his son where they were going’ (Moriah by Nathan Bennett) and ‘ It was the year of the drought. It was the summer that my dad left home, It was the summer I had to say goodbye to my best friend. None of these things were connected’ (The Summer of 76 by Celia Coyne). The often puzzling nature of our family relationships are put under scrutiny here.
Several poems echo and complement each other as in Dog ran off Smiling (Gail Ingram) and Kerrin P. Sharpe’s wonderfully titled, though his ship leaves the space between windows. A reader encountering this journal for the first time might well wonder about the prevalence of dogs.
Thomas Mann famously said, ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.’ I know this is true of myself – it has taken me several days to work up to this editorial – and for many of our students. As an antidote to this, one can take courage from Anais Nin’s words.
‘You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings….Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities and it always balances them.’
On that wild note, I’ll conclude by thanking our contributors for their work (clearly not ‘misers’ with their thoughts) and wish them further success with their writing. Thanks also to Simon Gurnsey who created the online page, and to Hagley Community College without whose support the Hagley Writers’ Institute would not be possible.